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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  September 28, 2013 7:00pm-8:31pm EDT

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.. so we would do whatever we had to do, work jobs, family back here. seriously, my mother has eight brothers and sisters, if i needed something they were all there. it was our collective families and our friendship and determination.
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if he would look up a scholarship and he was not qualified he would give it to me. he wouldn't be upset. we helped each other. we were in college. we were trying to get a -- so we could register for the next semester. we came up with creative stories every semester. [laughter] we get on a payment plan. we were real resourceful and did whatever it took to continue. it was tough. it was so tough that if a young person asked me today how would -- how did you do it? i couldn't -- you have to pray. you have to use the resources and tools and people around you. go for it. have faith it's going work out. you have to let people see what you're trying to do and take the first step. it will come. it happened for all three of us which is phenomena which is we made it through with no money. >> yeah. continue watching booktv all weekend long for more non-fiction authors and books.
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you're watching booktv on c-span2. here is our prime time lineup for tonight. visit for more of this weekend's television schedule. next on booktv, war correspondent scott anderson talking about t.e. lawrence and the involvement of britain,
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france, russia, and the united states. this is about an hour 20. [applause] >> thank you very much. thank you, sherman for the introduction. >> we traditionally give the own buy option if i to -- [inaudible] >> yeah. i'll talk briefly on that. i -- my -- i was raised overseas. my father was with aid in east asia. i actually grew up in asia. didn't spend any time in the states -- i came here to go to high school as a teenager. i think having with that background, the idea of having a conventional career and basing the united states was a little hard to imagine. with my brother, also, john lee anderson. we both immediately try to figure out how we can get back overseas and stumbled in to
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journalism as a way to do that. we -- john lee and i did two books together "inside the league "which he mentioned and "war zone" which was a oral history from five different wars taking place in the mid '80ss. and in the years since then, along with writing books, both non-fiction books and novels, i've written -- i write primarily for "the new york times" magazine along with feature articles. usually in war zones, almost always internationally. from the time i've spent in the middle east, what comes up whenever you have a really involved conversation with somebody in the middle east, invariably you go back to the decisions made almost 100 years ago now. the decisions and -- by most accounts and the mistakes made at the end of world war i. it in addition to that, i saw
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the movie lawrence of arabia as a kid and was utterly fascinated by him and the desert. about five years ago, i decided i wanted to do a book on lawrence of arabia looking at him as a prism through which to understand what happened in the middle east at the end of world world war i, and why it is the way it is today. so obviously i'm going to primarily talk about the middle east, but -- to understand what happened there in world war i, you kind of need to know a few things, like, on an overview about the war in europe, or how the war even came about. most historians looking at world war i now, they -- it is sort of seen as a "perfect storm" of stupidity that came together and created a worldwide catastrophe. in fact, you can divide it in to
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four distinct perfect storms. and the four -- the what lead up to the war the diplomatic maneuvering that collapsed and lead to the war. the second being the military conduct of the war, the third being the political considerations that occurred during the war, and then the fourth the peace after wards. the paris peace conference. so i'm going briefly talk about the first three which kind of brings us the middle east. one of the first misconceptions, general misconceptions, about world war i, and the imperial powers in europe battling each other is that it was about the maintaining of empire. it actually was -- it's an understandable misconception to have considering world war i was the graveyard of empire. the six great of empire of
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europe, four disappeared completely germany, us austria, and the two that survived and were the -- for want of a better word france were so weakened within 30 or 40 years they were finished also. but in fact, what it was about the expansion of empire. again, it seems almost ludicrous to imagine that now, but how that came about -- to understand why this is -- about the expansion of empire you have to look at what happened around the world. the 30 or 40 years prior to that. and specifically the scramble for africa. in the 40 years prior to the outbreak of world war i all of africa was colonized by europe. they were able to do so largely through the incredible advances made in communications, transportation, and most specifically weapon i are. to give one example, the battle
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of -- in saddam hussein in 1898, the british army lost, and one morning 47 dead while killing 10,000 of the enemy. the reason they were able to do that is because the enemy were on horsing carrying spears. they had machine guns. so what -- especially with the scramble for africa it really infused all of europe. all the european em pierp with the amazing sense of cultural and racial superiority, and so as they jockeyed for position locally in europe, they are looking where can they go next. what was left in the world? east asia had been colonized, the british had india, africa was cool onized, the americans weren't going to let the europeans in to the western hemisphere in any significant way because the monoroan doctrine. what was left was essentially
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the middle east and the ottoman empire. by the outbreak of the war, in 1914, the ottoman empire had been in a long state of ellipse. the different european powers -- every european power with the exception of germany had taking turns snatching bit of the ottoman empire. the french grabbed morocco, the british grabbed india. the russians had moved to the former ottoman lens of southeastern europe. so this was going to be the place where the next generation of colonies and the building of empire. but what happened when the war started, is they very quickly realized -- very few people -- the war started in august of 1914. most thought it was going to be over by christmas. what they forgotten, with few
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exceptions to taken in to account. the arab tribesmen, when they are armed with spears. war becomes a different game when the other side also has machine guns. what happened in the first month of world war i was unper little -- unparalleled in european history. the french in the first three weeks of the war suffered over a quarter million casualties. britain, which over the previous century had fought over 40 wars, mostly colonial wars. over the previous 100 years, the british lost less than 40,000 soldiers in combat. in the four years of world war i, they were going to lose 20 times that number. the most amazing statistic i came across was that in just a two-year period between 1913 and 1915.
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1915, you're one year to the war. the life expectancy of a french male went from 50 years of age to 27. this was the second perfect storm of stupidity that i was talking about. which kind of lead to the third. so in the face of such an absolute disaster for all parties concerned, it would seen reasonable they set about trying to figure out a way out of the mess. it was such a different war than anyone was expecting. now how do you get out of it? in fact, they did the opposite. instead of searching out comprise or lessening their depends they expanded them. it you have a quarter of million casualties like the french in the beginning but now you're a year in and on the half million and on the way to 1.3 million. it has to be worth something. how do you justify that sort of
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slaughter and loss of treasury? your demands get bigger. and so what happened as the war went on is that the territorial demands increased, and again, it was -- the map of europe wasn't going to change very much. france was going to grab two provinces the germans had taken from them in 1870. the map of europe -- france if they won they were not going to occupy germany. it's not like it was going disappear from the map. the part of the map that could be carved up was the middle east. the reason that was, was because -- in a case of really awful decision making, the ottoman empire came in to the war on the side of germany, on the side of the central power, germany, u.s.a. -- austria, hungary. if nay --
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they won, germany, they would economically and politically dominate the middle east. after the war, if britain and france won the war and russia, the triple -- they were going carve up the entire region. and as soon as the ottoman empire entered the war, the british foreign was a, -- office, say that started referring to it as "the great loot." that's what -- it's going to be just a looting that was going to happen after the war. i just want to briefly talk about what the ottoman empire was like. one -- and again, this goes to today. it existed for five centuries. it was nibbled away at. one of the -- probably the unique future of the ottoman empire and the key to its surviving.
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economically and politically and militarily it was always weak in comparison to any of the european powers. they had a system called the -- it gave incredible amount of an ton -- autonomy to local triable, ethnic, religious groups. to be part of the ottoman empire all you had to do was pay taxes and answer to the ottoman army. as long as you did that, you would be pretty much left alone. what you had across the ottoman empire were strong tribe and clan thief come. you had a human -- huge christian population. you had a small jewish population in palestinian. catholic and syria. a huge catholic population. it was this great empire.
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far more son than any of the european empires. in 1980, it was -- it was falling apart. it was contribute and -- in 1908, six years before world war i, a group of young progressive military officers became known as the young turks, basically over through this figure head. they became the de facto power of the ottoman empire. they had three main issues -- the ideas that kind of planks of how to appeal to this vast and very desperate empire. one was to -- there was going to be a renaissance of islam. the second was a turk people. ethnic turks being in central asia. the third idea of progressivism
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bringing it to the 20th century through e emancipating women. there was slavery in many part of the ottoman empire especially in arab ya. the problem with the three ideas when you have such an empire. if it was designed to -- everybody every component of the empire would have something that would draw them to it, attracted to it. they actually gave everybody something to fear. over half of the population of the ottoman empire wasn't turkish, so the idea of the kind of rise of turkish nationalism wasn't going to have any appeal to the arab population. renaissance of islam also very frightening to the christians and catholics. most significantly for this
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story of bringing the ottoman empire to the 20th century was equal to conservative elements that basically wanted the region to stay in the 14th century. specific with this was the -- eastbound i i don't think it's on the map. his name was -- in 1913 as the out man -- ottoman continually tried to bring him in to line, he sent his son. he had four sons and he sent one to cairo where he met with the british governor general, at the time a man named cicher in who will come up in a minute. and he asked kitchner if they
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would do if they went in to reinvolve. he blew him off because the war hadn't started. the british had good relations with the ottomans and sent him packing on the way. when world war i started the minister of war for the british, he remembered his conversation with the boy and he sent a message to hussein, his father, basically saying what will it take for you to join our side? and what proceeded to happen was a long negotiation over about a year between between the governor of egypt and the king to try to get the arabs to revolt. it cum m nateed -- culminated in the
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correspondents. it culminated with an agreement where the wish basically recognized independence for virtually the entire arab world. with the exception they wanted to -- they had discovered oil in present day iraq. they wanted to basically lease a portion of what is today iraq, and an area north of lebanon now, along the coast which they had said it's not primarily arab. it's very mixed. there's a huge christian population there. they excluded that from the agreement. virtually everything else was going to be an independent arab nation. the british had done this without ever consulting their chief allies france and russia. when they made a deal with hussein, the british thought, you know, maybe we should have -- [laughter] maybe we should check with our
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allies and see how they feel about this. one man in particular, a slide i'll show in a minute, a man named mark was sent to meet with the french diplomat, to sound out what the french might want in the middle east. as it turned out, the french basically wanted everything. they wanted what is today syria, lebanon, iraq, israel, and jordan. they wanted everything. what ensued was discussions between mark and his french cowrntd parts -- counterparts where they decided to divide up the region among themselves. it gets to the core historical controversy that continues to plague the region today. the difference between the promises made to the arabs in
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the mcmahon hussein correspondent and the -- how did the british get away with it? they never told hussein about the other agreement. and they never told the french about the hussein agreement. for two years, they delicately and carefully created these walls of separation so no one -- one side wouldn't find out about the other. the man who brought it to an end was t.e. lawrence, better known to the world as "lawrence in arabia" i'm not going to talk about lawrence, and if i can remember how to do this. i have a few slides that i was going to show you. hang on, what am i doing?
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yeah. [inaudible conversations] i want to get rid of this, sorry. there we go. that's lawrence on the -- okay. i think i'm set now. all right. that is lawrence on the far left. why does it keep doing that? [inaudible] i think -- lawrence was -- he was in the picture he's 28 years old. as a young -- he was educate at oxford. he -- as an arcologist. -- archaeologist. in 1909, he was fascinatedded -- fascinated by mid evil history. especially militarist i -- history. as part of the thesis at oxford he went to syria and on his own, nobody with him walked 1200
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miles across syria making a tour of all the crusaders castles, and that began this fascination, a life-long fascination he had with the arab world, and specifically with syria. a couple of years later, he came back to syria as part as an archaeological dig in northern syria for the british museum. he spent most of the four or five years lading -- leading to the area on the syrian and turkish border. he only had an infinity for arab culture. he studied in a way that few westerners of the time had. the workman on the archaeological site, he would ask them about their families and clans, and he would take notes what they were saying. so he really came to appreciate
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the way arab society worked. in a way that was unique far westerner at the time. when -- i'm sorry. when the war came along, he was -- he had -- he was on a break from the dig. he was back in england and the war broke out. he was actually too short, he was 5'3". he was too short to enlist in the army. in the initial days the war it was before the ottomans had come to the war. he took a job as a -- he was quite an expert in mapping department of the british military headquarter. and a great story how he became a military officer is that one day a senior general who was going off and going to be a commander in one part of the
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western front in belgium asked if he wanted to see the up up-to-date. he was outraged he was briefed by a civilian. he demanded to be briefed by an officer, lawrence was the only one there. he was bust told army/navy store to get a uniform. he was made a second lieutenant. that was how he joined the british military. a couple of months later, the turks -- the ottomans came to the war on the side of germany, u.s. austria and hungary. he was taken to cairo to work for the military intelligence office of the british army there. for the next two years, he basically sat behind a desk in cairo. argued again with position papers of what should be done in the arab world.
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more often than not, simply ignored. in summer of june of 1916, the arab revolt finally started, and four months later, almost as a lark, lawrence accompanied a british political agent who was the main liaison between the british and cairo and hussein in arabia. he accompanied him. he took a leave from the desk job and he went over to j et ta, the main coastal city in arabia. he instantly -- largely through just his own cunning managed to make himself the key liaison to the arab rebels, and he specifically attached himself to one of
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hussein's other son -- fisal -- let me see if i can -- this is kind of the landscape of where the fighting was taking place. this was the in southern jordan. i want to jump forward to show you -- that's fisal. he was hussein's third son, and he was -- he was one of the chief battle field commanders in the field. by late 19 -- october of 1916, when they first met, the revolt really stagnated. they had control of mecca and j et ta and the coastal city out outside of mecca, a few coastal towns. they had nothing -- they had no weapons or tactics to fight against the turks, and
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what lawrence did over the next several months was he attached himself to fisal, he independently decided that fisal was the true -- the prophet of war. he was the true arab rebel commander. rather anointed him as that. -- one thing how lawrence stood apart from the few other british officers who were on the arabian coast at the time beyond his knowledge of arab culture, and spoke passable arabic. he was fluent but didn't have a good accent. because he studied mid evil military history, not so much in the crew said but military history of europe, the military -- the wars in europe in the 14th century were actually very similar to how war was going to
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have to be waged in arab ya. war is primal. you're going back to -- what decides who you attack and when you attack and where. depends on where there's water, depends on forge for the animal, it depends on the escape route. it's very basic stuff that was concerns on the 14th century in europe. the 20th century concerns in arabia. lawrence understood that about how to wage war there in a way that a true british officer who was trained in modern military tactics just really couldn't have grasped. he was uniquely suited for this kind of war. what he also did, and what cemented the alliance between lawrence and fisal was he told fisal about the sikes peek koa agreement.
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he was in arabia for three months, and basically committed an act of treason by, i mean, you pass a military secret to a third party in wartime, and -- that's almost a definition of treason, and but he did it -- well, it's, i mean, it's you can debate why he did it. on one hand, i think one of his defense was that he knew better than -- i mean, he wasn't a modest guy. he was rather arrogant. he had a better idea what the british needed to do in the middle east than the british government sitting in london. and their idea of partitioning with the french, the region after the war was going to lead to disaster. it could also have been -- lawrence had always been fascinated with king arthur's court and the mid evil
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pageantry. he saw a chance to be the knight errant and deliver the people their freedom. he told fisal about the existence of the treaty. basically what he said was don't believe in the promises of my country, because as things stand now, we're going to betray you. if the arabs are going to get anything at the end of the war you have to fight for it. you have to fight for it every step of the way. for the next year and a half, lawrence lead -- there was one of the leader of the arab rebel in to battle, and while fisal knew about the treaty, no other arab leaders did, and so lawrence increasingly felt -- this is incredible moral conflict between the men he was
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recruiting to fight for him and die for him were most likely were going to be betrayed in the end. as the war went on, he became more and more -- i don't know imbittered, shattered. he called himself a char -- charl et on. this was -- lawrence was also a pretty amazing photographer. this is a photograph he took when he first got to arabia, and it's of the rebel camp in the early morning. i was going to show -- this was the rebel army on the move. you can't see it, but kind of right at the center is fisal leading the army.
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lawrence was standing on a hill to take the picture. what they were also -- brilliant at was understanding that to wage this -- because of the clan and triable -- tribal structure of -- the society in arabia. it was a complicated and delicate association process. you went to individual shakes, and asked them for a certain number of men to fight, and it was all very local. each time they would go to a different region of arabia, lawrence would have to recruit a new army because of the feuds and the blood venn vendettas that went on between the tribes and clans. all sort of tribesmen couldn't cross to another tribe's area. he would have to forge a peace, even a temporary peace between
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the two trines to -- tribes to get them to fight together. it was a experience for two years in trying to cobble together fighting forces to attack the turks. he understood this idea that in the postwar world that the brits and the frernlg were -- french were going to place them in artificial places. plus being put under christian and western control was kind of a recipe for -- disaster. the flee men -- three men in the white in the front are actually probably slaves. they're probably the immediate slaves. there was still slavery there at the time. [inaudible] oh. it is okay. i'm doing badly enough at this. i don't want to start doing badly at something else. this is -- right in the center the men in white -- that's fisal. this is as they're going battle. again, this is a photograph that
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lawrence took. this is very kind of mid evil scene of how war took place there. and this is lawrence on a camel. one of the -- it's quite amazing to think of -- most of the arab rebels were -- none of them had seen airplane before. they are terrified when the turks and the germans started using airplanes. they were terrified of artillery. most had never seen a blond, blue-eyed man before like lawrence. the idea that this 5'3" oxford scholar can show up and become a battle field commander is pretty atonishing. one of the keys that enabled lawrence was to do that, he had
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incredible endurance. he had incredible stan ma. even the earlier days at the dig, the locals would talk about how he -- the stan ma of a local. they thought of westerners as pretty soft and weak, and just through force of will lawrence could ride a camel for 30 hours without a break. i don't know if anyone here has been on a camel before, but -- [laughter] i, unfortunately, have spent quite a bit on them. it's very -- until you get used to it, it's like riding on a metal rod. the spine is right below the surface. it's like a swaying metal rod. it doesn't matter how good the saddle is. you feel the rod. it's hard to go. i think the longest i've been able to go without a break is four hour. the idea for somebody doing it for 30 is fell madly --
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phenomenal. he quickly started wearing arab robes. even from a psychology standpoint, i think, helped the people he was with to think of him as one of their own. this is mark -- this is a man who not only was the coauthor of the treaty, but also one of the prime movers behind the second thing he did was prime mover of of immigration -- his idea was, well, the palestinians will have no problem with jews coming in to palestinian. it will work out just fine. [laughter] and again, encouraging jewish immigration in palestinian at -- palestine at the time as far as the king hussein and the arabs
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knew, palestine had been promised to them. so, in fact, palestine was the -- the british kind of promised palestine to three different people. they promised it to the arabs, they promised it to the jews, they promised it to the french. this -- in talking about how this amazing ability of lawrence to sort of enter the inner circle arab leadership. that's fisal to the -- crouching down the highest up. that's lawrence in the far right with the wristwatch, and so this is -- and then two slaves in the background. [laughter] but he was operating inside the inner circle of the arab leadership. and this -- i kind of put in because i just like this picture. while lawrence and the rebels under fisal were striking the
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railway system in arab ya -- arabia and doing hit-and-run raids on the turkish. the british army was waging the very same war they are waging in europe against the ottoman army. and huge defensive. the first four big battles in the middle east -- the british army went up against an ottoman army. the ottomans in each one were extremely outnumbered, underfed, under -- had antique weapons. this is the ottoman cavalry, essentially. the ottoman cavalry, but by the british insisting on these absurd frontal attack systems, the first four battles they fought, they lost every time. and battles where they outnumber the turks three to one. and the great equalizer of
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machine guns. you put underfed, underpaid, ill demoralized men in trenches and give them machine guns, you know, it doesn't matter what you do against them. and this was, again, something that lawrence was constantly arguing against. if i could figure out how to do it -- i won't try it. i was going to go back to the map of arabia. lawrence's greatest military achievement -- and it's one that it's still today studied at west point a seizure of a turkish town on the red sea. if you can imagine the peninsula. it stands at the crotch --
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the southeastern corner of the sinai. what was significant about it -- so basically what happened with british naval help, they managed to leapfrog up the coast and take one turkish after another. the problem with it -- it was a small town. it was the last turkish military outpost. immediately behind it was this hassive wall of mountains that extended for 60 -- miles, while the british and the arabs -- there was no problem taking the town, but how do you advance beyond that? so you are going to be stuck on the beach, and the british already had experience when they tried to attack the turkish main lain and suffered a quarter million casualty. he counseled against landing there.
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he knew it, he was there before the war. just knowing with the kind of idiocrasy which the british military carried out everywhere else, the unsuitability of trying to land there made it almost certain they would try. so what lawrence came up with was this plan to basically cut inland, in to the arabia desert and fall on behind. basically come over the mountains from behind. the turks had this -- there was a 30-mile gorge up to the crest, they had block houses and trench works and everything. it was going to be a disaster of ever trying to climb up the george. if you came at it from behind, everything was pointed the wrong way. without ever telling any british officer, lawrence snuck away with 45 followers, and went on a 600-mile camel trek recruiting
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local arab fighters along the way, and fell on it from behind. i don't know if any of you have seen the movie lawrence of arabia, but the capture is kind the center piece of that. it's the emotional high point of the movie. it took two months, two months of crossing the desert, and all of these misadventures along the way and captured the town. another reason he captured -- it wasn't just a political -- it just -- wasn't just a military -- sorry, i meant to say a picture. it's a picture lawrence took. it's of the day in the summer of 1917, when the arabs are charging in to the town to occupy it. but beyond being a military triumph, there was also a political component to capturing the town that a lot of people
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don't know about. because it stood at the very top of the arabian peninsula. the british and the french thought -- the french were desperate because they wanted syria after the war. they wanted the arab rebels nowhere near syria. they wanted to take syria in the conventional, straight ahead military campaign. they wanted to actively keep the arab rebellion bottled up in arabia. so by taking the town, which was the gateway in to syria, if the british and french occupied it, they could then prevent the arabs from moving on. lawrence figured this out, it's one of the reasons why he never cleared his plan with any of his superiors. he knew if he had said i have this idea of how to take the town, they would have vetoed it because the british and the french wanted to get there before the arab. it was in a way, a second act of
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-- i don't know if you -- it meets the definition of treason. basically what lawrence did by taking the town, he was outflanking his own country, his own army by taking the rebels and getting them there first. then after taking the town, he showed up after a six-day camel ride across the sinai peninsula. he shows up in cairo at the british military command in cairo barefoot. by the time he had got to the town, his weight was down to something like 94 pounds. he walks in to the british commanders' office and said i've come from the town. i took it. again, if you have seen the movie, there's a great moment where -- this was going to be a major military operation for the british on all of these concerns of you know what kind of casualties they have, and then the 5'3" guy shows up saying he's captured it. and from the town, what, again,
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what lawrence did from a political standpoint is that on the strength of the triumph he managed to marry the arab rebel cause to the british army, and he managed to convince the british commander, as they now advance to syria that the arab rebels would act as their eastern component. again, this was this idea that lawrence had -- you're not talking about late 1917, that is this was the only way to steal away syria from the french. if -- especially if the arabs could get to damascus first as allies of the british, then they could steal away syria even though it had been promise to the french. so as lawrence became more and more obsessed with the idea of getting the arabs to damascus first, he became increasingly
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-- well, almost, i mean, almost demonic in battle. he would go to battle or order, like, no prisoners to be taken, executed, wounded enemy. and it's very clear he was basically he was kind of losing -- i put this picture in just because i love this picture. this is actually the turkish governor general of syria. a man named djemal pasha meeting with a bunch of arab shake -- sheiks. back then the photography was beautiful. it was done on the glass negatives which were huge. you can get amazing image from that time. at one -- hang on. at one point, really doesn't
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want to stay there for some reason. not doing it fast enough? no. hold my finger -- no. all right, well, -- [laughter] i don't know why it -- anyway. now it's just -- [inaudible] once? okay. good. all right. that's lawrence in the middle. i talk about how he became increasingly demonic in battle. he had a horrible experience where he was captured and severely tortured by the turks, and probably raped. he only would refer -- he aallowed -- alluded to it. he was repeatly raped.
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he establishes his own body guard. he a body guard of 60 men who were to protect him. he was such a sort of a shrewd thinker that the men he surrounded himself with were all the outcasts and troublemakers of the different tribes with the rebels. by being outcasted, he realized their primary loyalty would be to him, and they were. they fought to the death to protect lawrence through the last -- through the end of the war. i believe -- i believe -- at one time i think it was 45 or 50 men would be comprised the body guards. over the last year in the war, as there was a body guard that got killed. over 60 body guards were killed by the end of the war. so in september of 1918, the
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british army and the arab rebels finally breakthrough the ottoman line, the turkish lines in syria. they route the turks, they are fleeing north toward turkish heartland. lawrence and the rebels get to damascus -- well, kind of simultaneously, technically they got damascus first. so again, lawrence's great hope was that by having gotten there first, they would be able to -- they could declare an arab government and prevent the french from taking over. at -- this is -- this is fisal meeting with general allen b. hughs british commander and chief of the whole
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war effort. this is actually a pretty amazing photo or historic photo anyway. two case -- days after they reached damascus, allen, fisal and lawrence went to a room at the hotel victoria in damascus. and allen basically said syria is going to have -- to the french. it was basically taken away from him. in this picture, it was taken the same day. i find this picture -- this was actually taken on a balcony of the hotel victoria in damascus. this is just maybe 15 minute or an hour after lawrence has heard
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the arabs are going to be betrayed after all, and so he spent two years using -- getting to damascus as a battle cry for the arabs, and same -- actually the next day, the next morning, he left damascus in a british army car, and he never returned. and at one time, before the war started, he talked about how he felt syria was his new home. he was happier in syrian than he had ever been in his entire life. he actually never ever came back. what he did, he went to the paris peace conference. he went as a liaison. that's lawrence just the third from the right and fisal in the center. he went as an adviser to fisal,
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and at paris, first try to appeal to the british government to standby their word they promised the arabs. that didn't work. he actually cut a deal with the head of the zion -- the british zionist movement. he recognized from the decoration that was paving the way and ultimately lead to a jewish state. he realized that the decoration was incomplete. he had them meet and they made an agreement between jews and the arabs that in return for recognizing jewish primacy in palestinian, the zionists would defend the arabs' rights to claim of france. that didn't work.
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then, finally, what they tried to do is appeal to the americans. woodrow wilson showed up in paris with all of this talk of -- the age of imperialism was over. the age of secret deals was over, and talking about rights of self-determination for people, and it -- unfortunately it turned out it was mostly just talk. right towards -- as a -- as a way to kind of short circuit the british and french deal for the dividing up of the middle east, wilson sent a fact-finding commission -- the great solution, let's form a committee. so he formed a committee that went to the middle east to find out what the people -- the actual natives wanted, and so they sent this -- it was called the king crane commission. they spent three months pulling people throughout syria, lebanon, and palestine of what
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they wanted. and across every -- across the entire spectrum of populations, christians, arabs, jews, sunni,. they wanted independence. if they couldn't get independence they wanted an american mandate. by the time the king crane commission got back to paris with this news, wilson was a spent force, and now he was trying to get through his league of nations idea through a very stubborn congress. he never had any idea what he wanted to do. he didn't want america to become the governor force of the middle . -- east. the king crane commission was locked away in a vault.
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it wasn't seen by anybody for three years, by which time the division of the middle east had gone forward. the british and french dividing it. what happened in paris with lawrence was he kept fighting for -- to try to get his government to stand behind the promises made to fisal to the point lawrence became a problem for the british government. he was simply stripped of any role at the peace talks and made to place in a barrack. actually forbidden, he was in the military, forbidden to have anymore contact with him. so the betrayal went through. what happened almost instantly throughout the middle east by the -- with the partitions the place started to blow apart. it was pretty much all carved up
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in 1919. by 1920, this there was a full-scale revolt in iraq. there was independence riots in egypt. jewish were being attacked in palestine. there was war in europe against the french occupation. over the decades since, what you -- i think there's one more -- okay. this was the four leaders at paris. so basically what happened before wilson got to paris, the british prime minister on the far left, and then george on the second to the right. they had reaffirmed between the two of them. and five-minute conversation, they basically said, okay, what do you want?
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and i think he answered first what he wanted from the region and then he asked lloyd george what he wanted, and basically said done. they made a deal they're going standby each other and can shoot down wilson's ideas. this was one of the last picture of lawrence that was taken in, i believe, december -- december of 1934. he -- for a couple of years after the war, he tried to standby -- he was involved a bit in trying to -- the decisions made in the middle east. he rejoined -- he read a great -- wrote a great memoir. he changed his name and rejoined the british military as a private. it's interesting, by the time the war was over, he was a lieutenant colonel, and yet he
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insisted on reenlisting as a private. again, under a a assumed name. it was like he wanted to disappear. he spent the most of the rest of his life a recluse. it was clear he had what we call ptsd today. at the time it was called shell shock. he had bouts of depression he would contemplate suicide. and finally had a -- he was one of the most famous men in certainly in england in the post war, and yet he bought a little cottage down on the southwest coast of england. when he was away from the barracks he would hole up and read books and stuff. ..
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he had a motorcycle accident and was killed. the very last photo, this is actually a photo from -- it was taken two years ago in arabia and this is one of the trains that laurence lou up out in the desert.
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so, just a kind of wrap things up having spent so much time in the middle east over the past 20 years and thinking of how not just how you can trace the historical or political lines of what's happening there today back to this time but i think there's also an element of the personality of the place. i think what has happened ever since is the partitions that took place at the end of the war is that the arab world has tended to always see itself in terms of what it is supposed to. anti-imperial obviously but anti-zionist and anti-western and anti-western take so many different forms whether it's western music playing on the streets of cairo and i think so
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much of what you -- of this collision course that we have seen play out certainly in your lifetimes and earlier really stems from this kind of philosophical -- maybe philosophical is not the right word but this mindset that has really come to exist in that part of the world ever since that time. and the last thing i was going to say is you know i feel what we are seeing now and even six months ago when we were looking at the region today and is now looking at what's happening in syria but also what has already happened in libya and what has already happened in iraq. what we are now seeing is the final disintegration of these orders created almost 100 years ago. iraq today come to even though
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no one in the american government is going to admit it because the idea is we still somehow liberated iraq and put it on the path to something, iraq today is essentially three countries in its three countries very much along the lines of the muslim -- the ottoman provinces from 100 years ago. the same thing is now happening in libya. libya is rapidly becoming three countries and again almost exactly on the same lines as the historical partitions -- the historical partitions that exists under the ottoman and i think that's where we are headed with syria and probably the last place that is going to go is jordan so on that happy note, i will turn it over to questions. [applause]
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>> thank you. >> if you want to ask a question please identify yourself. >> i wanted to ask -- >> the please stand up. thank you. >> i wanted to ask about the face of the ottoman empire if it had made a different decision conflict you think the ottoman empire could survive -- [inaudible] instead of the central powers? >> it's a good question. actually the ottoman empire at least take component of it to try to join. we showed a picture of jamal. he was a real francophile. he loved everything about the french and in that summer of 1914 he actually went to france and tried to get the french to
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accept the ottoman empire as an ally and the french just brushed him off. it's a really good question on what would have happened. i often wondered what would have happened if the ottomans would have just stay out of it. i think that -- i was talking about the system that the ottomans used in this idea of one of the weird strengths of the ottoman empire was it's very lack of cohesion its lack of central authority and i think that just given modernity and the change in communications and the change in interaction between people, railroads, ships and airplanes had just started that the world was rapidly becoming a much smaller place and i have to think almost anything the ottoman empire did they were
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headed for serious trouble in the near future. as the different component parts of their empire came into increasing contact with each other and it's kind of a pessimistic view of human behavior but by coming into contact also coming into collisions so i think almost anything the ottomans did their days were kind of numbered. what would have -- if they had joined you now at the very least what we might have seen in the middle east was as the ottoman empire broke up was the nations were created in its place would have some logic to it come to would have some ethnic or religious logic to them rather than just joined together because that is what the european mapmakers the lines they drew.
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>> hi. i am ethan finkelstein. i was wondering if you could comment on your analysis of the situation now and if there is any of this pan arab nationalism that still exist that was promoted back in world war i and if that is something there are still large sex -- if a lot of arabs are wanting to have this massive derivation? >> yes. i think there is a segment of the population out there that -- this idea panned arabism is really quite strong. i have to say my first experience of that i spend quite a bit of time in cairo in 06 and
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07 when the war in iraq was particularly bloody and it's become particularly bloody again but we don't read about it anymore. and i remember talking to the egyptians and they would talk about what had happened in iraq the day before the bombing that killed seven people. it was very interesting. it was as if it had happened in egypt. i mean it was clear that they have this personal connection even though they were egyptians. they have this personal connection to what was happening in iran and i do think it goes to this notion -- this pan arab identity. i have never seen it in that part of the world. i mean if something happens in brazil there's not a lot of morning about it in colombia or something in denmark.
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so there is i think -- is it powerful enough to withstand all the forces against it advocating separation? i mean what you are seeing over and over again as people referring back to and tribal lines or sectarian lines. i don't know. i suppose if a leader came along and if the arab world right now could produce kind of a nassar event it would be interesting if that would stem the forces of disintegration happening around the world. i'm not sure that it would so i'm kind of like waffling. [laughter] >> of in wars previous to the first the u.s. have been
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involved in american interest had a heavy hand in driving u.s. foreign policy however the treaty of versailles the arabs declined to obtain as you said said -- with the middle east. why weren't companies like standard oil able to overcome that especially because as you discuss in the book they had had interests in the region previously. >> right. i think by the end of world war i, even when the americans went into the water the american people by a pretty significant majority were opposed by the early if the war so by the time the word was over the idea that the americans -- wilson's idea that the americans would now take on this kind of international referee role i think was just a nonstarter for
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me from the beginning. certainly in congress he had a very hostile congress which he helped make it more hostile because he was a completely uncompromising and rather vindictive man. i just think -- the idea of standard oil or somebody acting as a force to say the americans need to have a larger role in the world, i think it was a tidal waive of returning to isolationism and i think the benefits were just not readily apparent to americans at the time. it's funny you always think about oil but when you can see what it was going to become, it wasn't really there yet. it wasn't the strategic commodity that was going to utterly change the world and it
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was coming so i think the americans were just behind the times of what was coming. >> hi, my name is max. i wonder if you can elaborate on the french syrian relationship for example why the french were so keen about claiming syria as the protector and why other areas in the middle east -- yeah. >> yeah. going back to the 15th century as i mentioned earlier there was a really large christian population especially in syria. the armenians were orthodox christians and had their own church and their outside benefactor was russia. but for the catholics and the maronites in syria and lebanon
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today being part of the greater serious the time, the french extracted from the ottoman empire as series of things called the capitulations where the french would actually act as the guarantors of the freedoms of the christian population inside the ottoman empire and once the french established a system other european powers also demanded and got from the ottomans this whole system called the capitulations which was just a bizarre system. sorry. actually if you committed a crime comic a if you are a frenchman in syria and committed a crime you could be tried by a turkish court. you could only be tried by your own country so it made
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foreigners within the ottoman empire kind of the opposite of untouchable. this superclass that could never never -- that could kind of do whatever they wanted. but because the french have this special status and especially in syria they think that is why they always saw syria is one of their jewels in the crown plus at the time france was still a very catholic country and so many of the crusades had originateoriginated in france. i think part of it was just 700 years later let's finally have a crusades and wind. let's grab this place back from the muslims. i think it's a big part of why especially in palestine, why they wanted to grab that area and also contributing to it so much was the massacre of the armenians during the war.
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that helped build this idea that christians -- however you want to make it as the propaganda of why these countries needed these taken away from the ottomans. the christians should never be subjected to the risk of living under the ottoman muslim world. yeah. >> thank you for being here. my question is whether you can offer some insight into what true and sustained winds's fascination are interested in the arab culture and people because they guest today is highlighted in the book a unique westerner to head the views that you had and i was interested in the back round of why that was. >> is always a great mystery why a person develops a certain affinity for different culture.
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i don't know how much you all have traveled that you meet people like this all around the world from all different backgrounds and all of a sudden they go to to bet where they go to india or guatemala and they have -- i'm not even sure they can explain why it is but they have this instant connection and sense of identity to a place and almost an instant understanding of the way society works. most outsiders it could seem very exotic and impenetrable. there are these people that it's like i don't know a reincarnation or whatever it is. they just seem to know and they think lawrence was like that. it's interesting, thinking of his personality because in fact his personality was so nonarab. he had this repulsion of being touched.
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if he could avoid shaking hands he would do it. he hated being touched or embraced or anything and to go to an air culture where it's incredibly physical and men are always kissing and holding hands and hugging and everything. also at that time meals could go on for four or five hours and all these people sitting around in a room. this was how armies were recruited and how decisions were made on where to attack next. lawrence would sit in these meetings for five hours but then this is from a guy who prior to that prided himself on the fact that he would only eat standing up and pride himself that he could e a whole meal in five minutes. so it's how did that person become -- like lounging around on a rug for five hours. i don't really know the answer. yeah.
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>> my name is roland. you talk about other characters in this whole middle eastern drama like william yale and i was wondering what each are you to those specific areas -- characters in the roles they played? >> i got this idea. i wanted to write it book about him because i have as been fascinated but i wanted to do -- there were so many books at least 70 over the years and what i did to do was rehash what everybody else had done because even from a research standpoint after so many books there is not much new to be discovered and in fact there is nothing new to these discovered about lawrence. you're not going to go to the national archives in london and stumble across a trove of lawrence papers that no one has seen before. so that i also was thinking of how do i expand that campus and then i had this kind of epiphany
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about lawrence and why he was able to do what he did in the middle east. it really is i mean this central riddle of lawrence. how did a 28-year-old oxford scholar go off to arabia and become this battlefield commander of a foreign rebel army? part of the answer i realized was he was able to do it because really no one was paying much attention. the british focus in the french focus was almost on the western front. that is where 99% of the money and casualties were being expended so it is guy could go off and cause problems for the turkish enemy and arabia and it didn't require much, great, go do it so kind of from that realization about lawrence i felt that was true about the british who were by far the biggest imperial players in the region then it must be true about the other empires also. i started looking around and i
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found -- two years of or three years i guess older than lawrence and oriental scholar attached to the embassy for years and becomes the head of german counterintelligence and a spymaster in the war. the jewish agronomist. i mean i love the idea that so much of the history, and i don't know if the middle east is unique in this. what fascinated me about this period is massive things happened. massive change came to this part of the world. so much of it was put into effect by people who without titles, without positions, junior officers, jewish agronomist, people that by force of personality and force of will gave themselves a role on this
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stage where dramatic things were happening and helped bring about change. it wasn't king's and it was and generals. it was guys in their 20s and 30s so -- yeah. >> hi. in the book and also just now you attribute much of lawrence's success to even the clothes he wore in his knowledge and even tribal structures. have you seen similar models in foreign policy either in a different part of the world or a different point in time? >> i'm sorry. i missed the part towards the end. >> have you seen any similar models of the cultural sensitivity i guess you could call it in other parts of the world? >> sure. i think it's always the question
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question -- if you went to a almost any period, if you looked at vietnam there were americans in vietnam who in the 50s and 60's were warning the kennedy administration and certainly warning the johnson administration of the disaster that was going to happen if the americans continue doing what they were doing and what they were thinking of doing. i mean i think there are always people who have a grasp of a place and it saw as a question of do they just get overwhelmed by the war hawks or the imperialists or just the masses? in iraq, the war in iraq in 03 there were a lot of people in warning the bush administration that the american soldiers were
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not going to be greeted as liberators and by coming to this country -- the famous line you break it come to you on it and by getting rid of saddam hussein the centrifugal force in this country that have been kept together largely through terror by saddam hussein the forces of disintegration were going to take over. i don't think the people who said that gore knew that i don't think they ever got even a hearing from the bush administration but people who knew iraq knew that. i think there are always people out there who do. yeah. it sorry. >> hi. my name is alicia and i was just
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wondering, you had in your book lawrence the kingmaker of arabia and i was just wondering how you think the situation would have been in terms of the sentiment towards europe had he not -- instead taken the reins and the initial part of a revolution for himself? >> if lawrence had? if who had taken the reins? see if he had taken the reins to the revolution. >> if lawrence had taken an? i don't think it would have worked. it was never about -- he never had ideas of himself becoming a leader of the arabs. i think he always knew there had to be some arab leader that was going to unite them and overcome this at terry and divides of the groups.
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yeah and i think its i think it saw as an open question of whether faisal -- it's funny with faisal he didn't have great regard for faisal as a military commander but he did as this conciliator and someone who would bring the tribes together. that i don't think he ever imagined himself having a larger role once the arabs had independence. >> we are going to first of all thanks c-span for their presence here and thank thanks scott for this first form of portion of things. >> we were going to do the look after he died but he preempted that and i was horrified quite honestly and then i was
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delighted. >> i always felt people are more alike than they are different and so the artist in me rose to the occasion, that if i could create something that is so moving and that permits the kind of distance that you sometimes need from what is painful then people will understand and understanding is basically what is fundamental. >> but the point is that no argument is given to that effect none of the relevant facts are considered and this is regarded as one of the half-dozen cases where a just war theory entails the use of military force was legitimate. >> back to the world turned upside down. you spend a lot of time in the
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book on israel iraq and islam and one of the isms you talk about is islamism. the real reason the islamic sect declared war on the west that it embodies the freedom of the individual and the mitigation of theocratic authority. in a globalized world that freedom is viewed as a contagion that threatens in salam everywhere. >> guest: yes, this has preoccupied me for several years. it preoccupies all of us more and more. i do think as i said there is a problem here with the islamic world and with the religion at the root of the islamic world. it's very important to understand i think in all this that when one talks about these concerns one is not talking about all the things. on the contrary.
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there are very many muslims who have come as immigrants to britain precisely because they wanted to sign up to british and western values. they wanted freedom. they wanted to prosper and they wanted to have good jobs but they wanted freedom because freedom is very important to them. the women wanted to be treated as equals. they wanted all things that we all want, freedom, piece, prosperity. they are not hung up on these or with religious precepts that are causing us in the western world to much trouble. in the islamic world is precepts have been interpreted in a way that comes out of religion and which is now dominant and that is to say that the view of the world which says that the world has to be remade according to islamic precepts of, that muslims, where muslims are enjoying western type freedom that must be pulled back and
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they must be made to conform to a very very narrow authoritarian conservative interpretation in islam. that view is not dominant and the view that the west must be brought to heel for this vision this interpretation of islam is also dominant and that is what i call islamism. they're people who say what is this word islamism? what you mean is islam. i understand that islamism is a made upward but i use it in particular because in order to allow for the fact that there are muslims who are not extreme who do want to sign up for western values and we must acknowledge that and there are muslims who don't. so the those who don't i call and others called islamists because they are trying to impose the islamic doctrine islamic doctrines on people who are not islam and the hype donned antifreedom
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interpretation as a religion on muslims. i call those people islamists. they say the whole time what their intention is to re-create the old islamic caliphate the old muslim empire to go beyond that and to conquer britain, to conquer america. they are very explicit and to impose sharia, the rule of the islamic law upon anywhere that muslims lived. those are islamists in some of them are violent in some of them equip themselves with the weapons of war and terrorism. some of them are not violent but believe that they can conquer the west there a kind of cultural creep if you like, a kind of the cultural takeover. we should also be extremely worried by them. they are all islamists. some of them are violent and some of them are not violent.


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